Flash独立开发者分享游戏盈利解决方案

Flash游戏非常流行,而且它们的制作成本也很低廉。但是,Flash游戏开发者能够赚到钱吗?

有不少开发者认为Flash游戏能否盈利取决于游戏质量,当然更为重要的是取决于你的营销方式。他们认为,Flash游戏有着多重盈利流和渠道,单个盈利来源并不会长久获得收入。

加州萨克拉曼多市前Flash游戏开发者Chris Hughes说道,从前独立Flash游戏开发者的标准运作过程是制造游戏后将其销售给不同的门户网站和赞助商,看看哪家会接受这个游戏。

他与合作伙伴Adam Schroeder不久就对这个过程感到厌烦,于是创办了FlashGameLicense.com这个代理网站,开发者可以在站点上展示自己的作品,赞助方可以在网站上对游戏进行投标。

Hughes说道:“我们极大地提升了开发者通过游戏而获得的盈利。我们只允许合法的赞助商进行投标,这个过程不仅有助于增加游戏的货币价值,还能够改善协议条款,有时这比金钱要更为重要。”

网站声称拥有逾960个赞助商,包括CareerBuilder.com、Cartoon Network和Simon & Schuster,平均每日访问网站的有200个。现在网站上展示的游戏将近2000款,参与开发的开发者达到4400名。自站点于20098年4月开设 以来,共促成830桩生意,这些交易总价值将近95.6万美元,平均每单价值超过1000美元。赞助商无需支付任何费用就可以加入网站,网站从每次代理中 抽成10%。

通常每次销售能获得多少盈利呢?

据Hughes所述,每天提交到FlashGameLicense.com的游戏将近20款,其中99.9%的质优游戏可以售出,迄今为止站点售出游戏占总量的25%。如果游戏属于“质优”类别,那么游戏售出后开发者至少可以获得逾500美元。

Hughes还举了个Flash开发确实获利颇丰的实例(游戏邦注:并非所有开发者都可以实现此等盈利),即位于新西兰奥克兰的工作室NinjaKiwi。

他说道:“他们创造了完全以游戏为核心的站点,就是Bloonsworld。通过各种充分利用其知识产权作用的方法,这个站点每月给公司带来3万美 元的盈利,其中包括围绕他们的游戏来创建网络社区、游戏内置广告、站点条幅广告和游戏的各种授权。而事实上,这正是开发者要使游戏获得大笔盈利需要去做的 事情——尽量拓展盈利渠道。”

比如,开发者可以通过赞助和授权等形式在游戏中添加品牌来获得收入,也可以通过微交易系统出售道具或额外内容,允许诸如MochiAds和CPMstar之类的广告网络在他们的游戏中打广告并与开发者分享所获的盈利。

除此之外,开发者可以通过授权或出售知识产权,或吸引玩家购买游戏的完整版本和可下载内容为自己创造收益。

fanstastic-contraption(from appcraver.com)

fanstastic-contraption(from appcraver.com)

以开发者Colin Northway为例,他的首款Flash游戏是《Fantastic Contraption》。Northway在游戏中出售“额外内容”(游戏邦注:包括关卡编辑器和可以查看他人发明的功能),售价10美元,通过PayPal付款。

Hughes回忆道:“最终,这款游戏在短短4个月的时间里为Colin带来了6位数的收入,然后他将游戏的版权出售给inXile。他仍然可以获得原游戏及任意新游戏版本的盈利抽成。我把这种做法称为盈利流最大化。”

独立工作室PixelJam Games就是个业务模式中存在多个盈利流的Flash开发商,这个工作室由俄勒冈州西雅图的Miles Tilmann和尤金的Rich Grillotti创办。

但是,这并非二人最初制定的战略。2004年末,他们在低分辨率和大型像素风格的Atari 2600和Super Nintendo上发布了首款游戏。

Tilmann回忆道:“我们当时的计划是辞去插图画家和设计师的工作,花6个月的时间来制作游戏,并且希望能够以玩家因喜欢我们的游戏而支付的款项为生。现在回想起来,我们当初的想法真是天真幼稚。”

当他们无法获得盈利时,这两个人开始尝试另一种做法,他们花1个月的时间完成的第2款游戏《Rat Maze 2》获得了独家赞助。

Tilmann说道:“我们获得了5000美元的预付款,刚开始觉得这是一大笔钱,直到我们意识到这是我们出售游戏获得的全部收入。5000美元根本不够两个人在1个月内的工作需要。”

两人很快意识到他们需要改变自己的业务模式。于是,必然就会采用多种盈利流这个战略,这使得游戏《Dino Run》成为他们最成功的作品,虽然这个游戏耗费了他们长达7个月的时间。

Dino run(from dinorun.wikia)

Dino run(from dinorun.wikia)

Tilmann解释道:“我们从零广告单纯依靠捐助发展到现在的赞助战略,目前的战略结合了三种不同的盈利流。只有其中之一完全无法支撑整个工作室,但是三者的结合能够取得很棒的效果。”

盈利流之一是微交易。虽然《Dino Run》是免费的,但是玩家可以用少许金钱来换取可以让他们自定义恐龙的代码,比如改变颜色或给他戴上帽子。有些玩家只花了一点点钱,有些玩家已经花了上 百美元。Tilmann解释道:“我们让玩家意识到游戏对他们是有价值的。”从游戏发布之日起,微交易为他们产生了将近4000美元的盈利。

第二个盈利流是广告,包括PixelJam页面上的谷歌广告(游戏邦注:本文撰稿时已产生将近4000美元盈利)、来自MochiAds的加载广告 (游戏邦注:本文撰稿时已产生将近1500美元盈利)和其他站点的盈利抽成(游戏邦注:本文撰稿时已产生将近6000美元盈利).

第三个盈利流——授权是最为成功的盈利方式,它为该工作室带来2.2万美元的收入。

Tilmann强调称:“对于大小与《Dino Run》相当的游戏,授权是最佳的盈利方法。其他人付款获得将游戏放在站点上的权利,你完全可以根据自己的偏好尽可能多地出售许可。事实上,我们通过FlashGameLicense.com获得了两个很不错的单子。”

迄今为止,三个盈利流已经为公司带来将近4万美元的盈利,而且还在不断增长中。

Tilmann说道:“我们不选择独家赞助这条路,因为我们无法保证获得的资金能够支持我们花7个月的时间来构建游戏。但对于那些只需要花2到3周时间来制作的游戏,赞助能够起到更大的作用。”

锦上添花的是,可能是因为《Dino Run》获得了巨大的成功,PixelJam雇佣了他们二人,一个负责Comedy Central的The Sarah Silverman Program,另一个在Cartoon Network的Adult Swim中工作。Tilmann只能透露,这两个项目给PixelJam带来的盈利都比《Dino Run》要少,但是项目所耗费的时间也更短。

他补充道:“我想你会认为如果我们受雇于他人,业务会更加繁荣。但是我们并不是非常愉快,因为我们并不喜欢为他人工作。”

而这也正是Sean T. Cooper成为Flash开发者的原因。1987年,他在位于英国的Bullfrog Productions开始了自己的职业生涯,在那里领导、设计并开发了许多轰动市场的游戏,直到1995年EA收购了这个工作室。他又在EA的旗下干了 11年,直到2006年自己一时兴起制作了个Flash小游戏。这款游戏耗时8天完成,赞助商为此向他支付了1500美元。

Cooper当时决定转变成独立开发者,他回忆道:“当时我对自己说,这还不足以让我继续前进,但确实是个好的开始。”

下一步便是创造出更多的游戏,其中许多作品融入了Boxhead这个品牌,他将这些游戏描述为“许多充满动作、枪支和血腥的快节奏僵尸杀戮游戏”。 总的来说,他的网站上现在包括5款Boxhead游戏和3款Wone Games品牌游戏,还有首款全新的Shadez系列品牌游戏。

他解释道:“这个品牌对我而言很关键,是我的首要品牌。如果玩家喜欢该系列的首部作品,他们就会继续关注你的后续作品。这就跟电影院的运作一样,盈利便从中而来。”

现在,许多盈利来源于赞助商和加载广告,依Cooper所述前者盈利是每款游戏2万美元。

在他的网站上还有网络商店,出售Boxhead和Shadez衬衫、纽扣和鼠标垫。他计划在短期内增加第4个盈利流,就是游戏内置广告。

boxhead zombie wars(from jpthor)

boxhead zombie wars(from jpthor)

以旗下成功游戏《Boxhead: Zombie Wars》为例,自2008年3月起已经产生了5.3万美元的盈利。这款游戏耗费6周时间开发完成。

优秀的Flash开发者每年可以获得多少收入呢?

Cooper计算道:“假设我每年可以开发完成10款游戏,可能是3到4款Boxhead游戏,1款Shadez以及些许其他游戏。假设新游戏每款 盈利1.8万美元,比较不出名的Shadez系列游戏某款盈利2.5万美元,4款Boxhead游戏每款盈利5万美元。也就是说,如果每天都努力工作的 话,我觉得每个开发者每年可以获得40万美元的收入。”

Cooper作品质量当然在Flash游戏领域中属于前列,他能够获得如此多盈利的原因之一是支持其他公司开发Boxhead游戏,然后分给他50%的盈利作为品牌授权费。

Cooper奉劝开发者:“但是你必须记住的是,只有游戏受到欢迎并构建其自己的品牌之后才能获得大量盈利。在做出流行游戏《Boxhead: Zombie Wars》之前,我还制作了4款其他的Boxhead游戏。你必须保持动力,直到你实现上述目标。”

游戏邦注:本文发稿于2009年2月9日,所涉时间、事件和数据均以此为准。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,如需转载请联系:游戏邦)

Where’s The Cash For Flash?

Paul Hyman

Flash games are hugely popular, and they’re cheap to make. But is there money to be made as a Flash developer?

That depends, say the people interviewed for this article, not only on the quality of your games, of course, but more importantly, on how clever you are at marketing them. It’s all about having multiple revenue streams, they say; single sources of income used to cut it, but no longer.

Once upon a time, the standard operating procedure for an independent Flash developer was to create a game and then shop it around to the various portals and sponsors to see who — if anyone — would bite, says former Flash developer Chris Hughes in Sacramento, CA.

He and his partner Adam Schroeder soon became weary of the process and launched FlashGameLicense.com, a broker site where developers can display their wares and sponsors can bid on them.

“We’ve had a huge impact on what developers get for their games,” claims Hughes, the site’s co-owner. “We only allow legitimate sponsors to bid, and the process not only helps to increase the monetary value of the games but also can improve the terms of the agreements, which can sometimes be more important than the upfront money.”

The Web site claims to have over 960 sponsors — including CareerBuilder.com, Cartoon Network, and Simon & Schuster — of which 200 view the site daily. There are currently about 2,000 games on display, created by the 4,400 developers now enrolled. Since the site was launched in April, 2008, it has brokered over 830 deals totaling almost $956,000 — an average of just over $1,000 per deal. Sponsors pay no fees to become sponsors; the site takes 10% of each transaction.

How much is the typical transaction?

According to Hughes, of the 20 games submitted daily to FlashGameLicense.com, “99.9% of the good-to-great games get sold while 25% of all the games we’ve ever had on our site have been sold. At a minimum, developers selling their first game ever — if it falls into the ‘good-to-great’ category — make about $500-and-up.”

At “the high end,” a not-so-typical example of how lucrative Flash development can get is Auckland, New Zealand-based studio NinjaKiwi, the developer of the Bloons games, says Hughes.

“They have created an entire game-specific site — Bloonsworld,” he notes, “which enables them to make $30,000 a month or more by leveraging their IP in various ways, including creating an online community around their games, in-game ads, banner ads on their site, and various licenses on their games. And that, in fact, is what developers need to do to make their work lucrative — maximize the number of revenue streams they create.”

For instance, developers can allow specific branding in their games for a fee through sponsorships and licenses, sell items or premium content through microtransactions, and allow ad networks like MochiAds and CPMstar to keep ad inventory flowing through their games and to share the revenue with the developer.

In addition, developers can license or sell their IP, enter competitions that generate revenue, and urge gamers to buy full and/or downloadable versions of their games.

Take, for example, developer Colin Northway, whose first Flash game was Fantastic Contraption. Northway sold “premium content” in the game — a level editor and the ability to view other peoples’ contraptions — for a one-time $10 fee payable through PayPal.

“The game ended up making Colin an amount in the low six figures in only four months,” recalls Hughes, “and then he sold the rights to inXile. He still retains a percentage of the revenue share on the game and any version of the game released. That’s what I call maximizing revenue streams.”

If ever there was a Flash developer whose business model depends on multiple revenue streams, it’s indie studio PixelJam Games, the brainchild of co-owners Miles Tilmann in Seattle and Rich Grillotti in Eugene, OR.

But that wasn’t the duo’s original strategy when, at the end of 2004, they launched their first game in the retro, low-res, big-pixel style of the Atari 2600 and Super Nintendo that would become their signature look.

“Our plan had been to quit our jobs as illustrators and designers, spend six months making a game, and live off the donations that we hoped gamers would send us because they liked our game so much,” recalls Tilmann. “I guess you could call our plan ‘Hope For The Best.’ In retrospect, I’d say we were kind of naïve.”

When money didn’t start pouring in, the pair tried a different tack, this time securing an exclusive sponsorship for their second game, Rat Maze 2, which took them a month to build.

“We got $5,000 in upfront money which we thought was great at first,” says Tilmann, “until we realized that that was all the money we were ever going to see from the game. And that $5,000 for two people working a month wasn’t going to keep the business going.”

The two quickly recognized their business model needed modifying. The resultant strategy of using multiple revenue streams was what made their game Dino Run their most successful, even though it took them seven months to build.

“We went from zero advertising and all donations to sponsorships to our present strategy,” explains Tilmann, “which incorporates three separate revenue streams, none of which we could get by on alone. But, together, they support our business quite nicely.”

Stream one involved micro-transactions. While Dino Run is free to play, a small donation gives gamers a code that enables them to customize their dinosaur, perhaps change his color or put a hat on him. Some gamers send a penny, others have sent as much as $100. “We let people decide what the game is worth to them,” comments Tilmann. Micro-transaction donations generated about $4,000, lifetime to date all told.

Step two involved advertising — a combination of Google ads on the PixelJam pages (generating about $4,000 in total thus far) plus pre-load ads from MochiAds (generating about $1,500) and revenue shares with other sites (generating about $6,000).

The third — and most successful — revenue generator involved licensing, which brought in about $22,000.

“For games the size of Dino Run, licensing is the best way to go,” notes Tilmann. “They are paying you for the right to put your game on their site and you have the ability to sell as many licenses as you’d like. In fact, we got two really good deals through FlashGameLicense.com.”

Bottom line: The three revenue streams have brought in approximately $40,000 for seven months’ work with more still trickling in.

“We chose not to go the proprietary sponsorship route,” says Tilmann, “because we couldn’t secure one that would cover the seven months it took us to build the game. Sponsorships tend to make more sense when a game only takes two or three weeks to make.”

The icing on the cake was that, possibly due to the success of Dino Run, PixelJam accepted two “for hire” jobs — one for Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program and another for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Tilmann would only reveal that each commissioned project generated slightly less than what PixelJam earned from Dino Run — but they took considerably less time to build.

“I guess you could say that, on paper, our business would flourish more if we just did work for hire,” he adds. “But we’d be very, very miserable. We’re just not happy working for other people.”

That is, in fact, how Sean T. Cooper got started as a Flash developer. In 1987, he began his career at UK-based Bullfrog Productions where he led, designed, and programmed many hit titles until 1995 when Electronic Arts bought the studio. He spent 11 more years at EA until 2006 when, on a whim, he built a little Flash game. It took him eight days and a sponsor paid him $1,500 for it.

“I said to myself, ‘that’s not quite enough to keep me going, but it’s a good start,’” recalls Cooper who, at that moment, decided to go indie.

The next step was to create more games, many of them incorporating what would become his signature Boxhead brand, which he describes as “a collection of fast-paced, zombie-killing games full of action, guns, and loads of blood.” In all, his Web site now contains five Boxhead games plus three under his Wone Games brand, and the first in his newest Shadez series brand.

“The brand is the key thing for me; it’s number one,” he explains. “If gamers like the first game in a series, they’ll come back for more when you release the sequels. It’s just like the cinema business. That’s what drives the revenue.”

Much of that revenue now comes from sponsorships — which Cooper says currently go for about $20,000 per game — and from load-in ad revenue produced by the 1,009 web domains that carry his titles.

There’s also the online store on his web site that sells Boxhead and Shadez shirts, buttons, and mouse pads. His plan is to add a fourth revenue stream shortly — in-game advertising.

For a game like his highly successful Boxhead: Zombie Wars, that adds up to approximately $53,000 which the game has generated since March 2008. The title took him six weeks to build.

What then can a good Flash developer make in a year?

“Let’s say I can write 10 games in a year,” calculates Cooper, “perhaps three or four Boxhead games, one Shadez game, and a few others. The new starts can bring in, say, $18,000 each, the less-well-known Shadez series games can bring in, say, $25,000 each, and the four top-end Boxhead games can generate, say, $50,000 each. Which means that one person can — with a lot of hard work, meaning every day of the year — expect to bring in close to $400,000 a year, I think.”

In addition, Cooper — whose game quality is, of course, one of the best in the Flash game business, one of the reasons he can do so well — intends to allow other companies to develop Boxhead games which will entitle him to 50% of the revenue for the privilege of using his brand’s name.

“But remember,” warns Cooper. “That first game generated just $1,500. The bigger money doesn’t come until you’ve become popular and built up your brand. It took me four other Boxhead games before I produced one as popular as Boxhead: Zombie Wars. Until then, you just have to be highly motivated. What motivates me? I live every day wondering how I’m going to eat that night.” (Source: Gamasutra)



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